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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Genus: Annona

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > magnoliids > Order: Magnoliales > Family: Annonaceae

About 110 species, native mainly to tropical America but with four species native to tropical Africa of which two occur in southern Africa. An additional four species are cultivated in the region.

Species native to southern Africa

List from Plants of Southern Africa - an Online Checklist (SANBI), Flora of Zimbabwe and Flora of Mozambique.

Annona senegalensis (Wild custard apple)

Native to West, East and southern Africa as well as Madagascar, the Comores and Cape Verde Islands. Within southern Africa, recorded from Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and South Africa (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal).

Annona stenophylla (Dwarf custard-apple)

Native distribution includes Angola, DRC, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nambia and Botswana.

Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Annona cherimola (Cherimola, Custard apple)

The Cherimola is a small tree with scaly-looking fruits that are about 10-12 cm in diameter. It is native to the subtropical highlands of Peru and Ecuador and is widely cultivated in Central America as well as subtropical and tropical regions elsewhere. The flesh of the fruit is eaten raw or used ice cream, milkshakes, jams, jellies and yoghurt. As the fruits do not last long once picked, they are mainly sold on local markets. Although Cherimola has been grown in southern Africa, it is rarely encountered in this region.


Annona muricata (Soursop, Guanábana)

The Soursop is a tree of up to 8 m high bearing large thorny-surfaced 'custard apple' fruit, weighing up to 3 kg each. The flesh in these fruits can be eaten raw, but more commonly is used in fruit juices and softdrinks. It is also used in ice creams, sorbets and jellies. Soursop is native to the tropical lowlands of Central America and is now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions. It is rarely encountered as a cultivated tree in southern Africa.


Annona reticulata (Bullock's heart)

Native to the tropical lowlands of Central America.


Annona squamosa (Sweetsop, Sugar apple)



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.